Expedia Expert: Hong Kong
Expedia designer Vivian spends plenty of time visiting family in Hong Kong – here are her top must-see tips for a trip to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is probably best known for its delicious foods, neon lights and round the clock shopping, but away from the iconic landmarks and postcard harbour views, Hong Kong has plenty to offer. Here are my five favourite activities.
1. Go visit Wan Chai Markets
It’s not uncommon for travellers to visit Wan Chai markets on a whirlwind tour of the city’s many markets. Unlike the other famous markets, there’s still plenty more weird and wonderful shops at Wan Chai. For the young and young at heart, head along Tai Yuen Street (Johnston Street Entrance) and you’ll find toys, toys and more toys. The toy stores sell anything from nostalgic toys and quirky knick-knacks to collectable figurines and car models freighted in from Japan. The markets are also a great place for an affordable meal. At the end of Cross Street, you’ll find a humble-looking noodle stall selling ‘congee’, a popular rice porridge everyone should try at least once. Order it with a side of Chinese “donut” – the lot would set you back no more than $30HKD. Is rice porridge too tame for you? Keep walking along Cross Street and you’ll find Se Wong Sun, a popular shop dedicated to serving all things snakes. Try the legendary snake soup, cooked with chicken stock mushrooms and of course, snake. Don’t forget to add a little lemongrass.
2. Take a Tram to Kennedy Town
Taking a ride on the Colonial style tram on Hong Kong Island is a special experience. The transport system is more than 100 years old and is still a major form of transport for locals and travellers alike. For those with time to spare, take the tram all the way from Causeway Bay or Wan Chai to Kennedy Town (crossing the Central district’s iconic commercial buildings). Kennedy Town has seen a recent influx of new restaurants and food ventures, it’s quickly becoming the latest hub for hipster foodies. You’ll find everything from classic French restaurants to a Fish and Chip shop with queues way out the door. A must visit is Sunday’s Grocery, the latest venture from the guys behind the Yard Bird restaurant. Part take-away shop, part grocery store, stop by to pick up a bottle from their collection of curated liquor or grab a bite off their no-fuss menu. Highlights include chicken sandwiches and fried chicken. There are standing tables in the shop but opt for the take away option and enjoy your meal by the water of Belcher Bay. Sunday’s Grocery, 66-68 Catchick Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, 2628 6001
3. Check out the street art in Sheung Wan
Hong Kong has a long history of street art. Controversial artist Tsang Tsou Choi (aka. the King of Kowloon) and his distinctive brand of calligraphy graffiti art have been covering the streets since the 1950s.
Today Hong Kong’s street art scene is still booming. Climb the steep streets of Sheung Wan to find amazingly detailed artworks by local and international graffiti artists. One of my favourite is H’and = Havin’ A Nice Day.
Many of these streets are inaccessible by car, so wear comfy shoes, grab your camera and wander the street on foot. Start at the top of the hill, along Tai On Terrace and make your way down to Tai Ping Shan Street, Sai St, and Hollywood Road.
Don’t forget to stop at the dozens of boutique shops and cafes dotting the streets or hiding in the nooks and crannies.
4. Get artsy and historical at PMQ
Hong Kong locals might be familiar with the PMQ as the home of 1,600 adoptable Papier-mâché pandas or the place where 13,500 golden origami horses are suspended in the air to create a giant suspended goat sculpture – but even if art installations aren’t your thing, a visit to this heritage conservation site is a must.
The PMQ building is located on the slopes of Aberdeen Street. It was the very first government school in Hong Kong but after the campus’s destruction in WWII, the school was moved and the site was converted into a dormitory for police officers and served that purpose until 2000. In 2009, as part of a government initiative, the space was transformed once again into a major design and creative hub.
PMQ is now home to seven floors of boutique art stores and artist studios, spread out between two buildings, complete with a roof top garden and plenty of outdoor furniture for you to take in a bit of sunlight and fresh air. The space plays host to regular art installations, pop up shops as well as workshops and events so make sure you find out what’s on while you’re in town.
5. Visit Sai Kung
Sai Kung is a district in the New Territories. It will take you a little while to get out there from the city centre but there’s plenty to do, so plan ahead and consider staying for a full day. Though the area has been popular for years with locals and is famous for its fresh seafood, it maintains a laid-back small village vibe.
For those making a day of it, there’s a host of outdoor activities including hiking, windsurfing, kayaking and a dozen of beaches to stretch out on.
For those who can only get there after sunset, dinner at one the dozens of seafood restaurants along the pier is a must. Choose your live seafood from the wall-to-wall tanks outside the restaurants and one of the rubber booted staff will help you net and weigh your selection. Though language may prove a slight barrier here, it’s best to ask for the cost of the seafood before the staff bring it into the kitchen, in case you’re left with a surprise at bill time. If something costs a little too much, it’s ok to ask for it to be put back. Staff are generally very helpful and everything can be cooked in your preferred method, though the staff’s recommendation is usually pretty spot on.